Kofi Annan sent Ghaddafi a letter Wednesday affirming that prosecutors would not set out to undermine or implicate the Libyan government, ostensibly clearing the last stumbling block to a trial. "Of course, the evidence could still implicate Libya," says Dowell. "It's unlikely that the two mid-level Libyan agents charged for the bombing acted alone -- it's been Ghaddafi's fear of being implicated that's kept them out of court so far." And given the Libyan leader's record, all bets are off until the accused are actually in the dock.
Muammar Ghaddafi's stubbornness has served the U.S. well. His refusal to surrender the Lockerbie bombing suspects -- which may be at an end following Wednesday's U.N. undertakings over the trial -- has been the cornerstone of Washington's containment policy. "The Lockerbie issue kept sanctions in place, allowing the U.S. to very successfully box in Ghaddafi," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "He'd been financing guerrilla groups all over the world during the '80s, but now he's hardly a factor."